Fighting against bacteria!

Measuring antibiotics for better healthcare

SensUs 2018 challenged student teams to develop innovative biosensing systems for the measurement of the antibiotic drug vancomycin.

Antibiotic drugs are widely used in society. Unfortunately, the massive use of drugs causes Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR). Since vancomycin is a last-resort antibiotic, it is important that the drug is used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Antibiotics measurement can play a role in this.

On a personal level, a vancomycin biosensor will help for providing patients always with the right dose, thereby increasing the effectiveness and reducing the side effects of drug treatment.

This page explains more about antibiotics, vancomycin and the SensUs 2018 contest.

The beginning...

What is an antibiotic?

Antibiotics are pharmaceutical drugs that help stop bacterial infections. The drugs either kill the bacteria or inhibit their reproduction. Antibiotics actually means “anti-life”, in other words, every drug that kills bacteria is an antibiotic. The first drug to carry the name antibiotic was Penicillin, discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming.

Bacterial infections can occur everywhere in the body, for example in the skin, in wounds, and inside organs. However, antibiotics must be used with caution, as overuse is a growing problem which has caused bacteria to become resistant against antibiotics. Bacteria can mutate and thereby generate strains that are not affected anymore by the antibiotic. When this happens, the bacterial infection cannot be stopped by using antibiotics.

The goal


The biomarker of SensUs 2018 is vancomycin, which is one of the last-resort antibiotics. It is effective against Gram-positive bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause very severe and sometimes fatal infections. Vancomycin fights the Gram-positive infections by making the cell-wall unstable and impeding its synthesis, causing the bacteria to die.

Read more about vancomycin on our wiki

Our mission

What is the relevance of biosensing?

Vancomycin has severe side effects at high drug doses, including kidney failure and hearing loss. Dosing correctly is therefore very important, but at the same time very difficult due to human variability and fluctuations over time. Drug level monitoring could help to realize personal dosing and optimal dosing over time, which would improve the therapy of patients. Also with the rise of antibiotic resistance, all antibiotics should be used as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Taking blood
Final product...

SensUs Contest 2018

On the 7th and 8h of September 2018, all participating teams will come to Eindhoven to demonstrate their biosensors to the world! It will be an exciting contest between teams of 13 universities from USA, Canada, China, Egypt and 8 countries in Europe!